By Victor O'Brien

Killeen Daily Herald

Thousands of firefighters across the country participate in annual "Fill the Boot" campaigns. For Killeen firefighters, each year's campaign carries a special reminder.

More than 20 years ago, Killeen fire Capt. Melvin Whiteley died from one of the many conditions that fall under the umbrella term muscular dystrophy.

His death changed the way Killeen firefighters view "Fill the Boot," Killeen Deputy Fire Chief Steve Buchanan said Thursday.

"It makes you realize that these diseases aren't isolated to somebody else. It affects us close to home. It affects everybody and not just kids," Buchanan said.

For the past two years, the Killeen-Fort Hood area led the nation in per capita donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, coordinated locally through the Heart of Texas branch.

Today is the last day for drivers to donate to 48 firefighters who will work street corners from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. accepting donations from drivers. Killeen firefighters started Wednesday.

On Thursday, the echo of change dropping into a bucket resounded inside a Killeen fire station. A team of eight firefighters and two MDA workers counted donations, adding to more than $16,000 donated Wednesday.

Firefighters credit the generosity of area residents with the tremendous success they've achieved in recent years. Drivers donated $77,709 in 2009 and $94,528 in 2008.

"We owe this to our citizens," Killeen fire Lt. Jeff Ferrell said Thursday, seated in front of stacks of bills.

For anyone wishing to donate to the MDA, donations are accepted at each Killeen fire station.

Contact Victor O'Brien at or (254) 501-7468. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

Fill the Boot donation locations

Killeen firefighters will be at the following locations today:

Rancier Avenue and 38th Street

W.S. Young Drive and Veterans Memorial Boulevard

Stan Schlueter Loop and Central Texas Expressway

Trimmier Road and Central Texas Expressway

Watercrest Drive and Clear Creek Road

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